Survey of BI’s Transformers indicates that talent/hiring is the No.1 driver of transformation that companies will invest in during 2021

As part of this year’s Transforming Business campaign, we polled the Transformers across the US, Europe, and Asia and had 53 respondents.
Those polled told us that talent and hiring is the No.1 driver of transformation that companies will invest in during 2021.
In the aftermath of the pandemic, many workers will want to continue to work from home at least part-time.
Showing a meaningful purpose in a company’s work is an important recruitment tool, especially among millennials.
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While many companies  have struggled during the pandemic, Everise in Singapore saw sales rise 30%. Talent was a big part of the reason.The business-process outsourcing firm runs call centers and other customer experience functions for companies. As the pandemic caused layoffs around the world, Everise gained access to a huge talent pool. Where Everise only had workers in five states in the United States before, it quickly expanded to 34 states. (The company also has workers in Europe, the Philippines, and other areas.)”As work shifted to at-home, we were able to attract a different kind of worker,” said Chris Greenough, the company’s chief marketing officer. “We gained access to people who wanted a lifestyle change that didn’t involve office politics; older people who wanted a secondary income; people who wanted flexible hours; and disabled people who couldn’t commute and had previously been marginalized.”Before the pandemic, 16% of Everise’s employees in the US worked from home. In a recent survey, 95% of its US workers said they’d like to work from home at least some of the time.As work-from-home becomes the new norm, companies across industries are re-examining their workforce approaches. BI recently polled 53 of those named to its annual Transforming Business list, across Europe, North America, and Asia, and found that talent/hiring is the top strategy companies will invest in during 2021 to drive transformation. More than half of all companies have this on their to-do list.Everise took a methodical approach toward its growing at-home workforce. Every supervisor and manager was trained to engage their remote workers and build a strong corporate culture. “One of the delightful surprises was that managing workers remotely was, to use a Malaysian expression, ‘the same but different,'” Greenough said. “In the past, if an agent had a problem, he’d raise his hand and his manager would come over and coach him over his shoulder. Now employees raise their hands virtually and the manager coaches them with a shared computer screen.”Greenough said Everise has had to rethink its metrics in light of COVID. In the past, the company evaluated agents by “average handle time” – how long it takes to resolve an issue for a customer. With a fully remote workforce, the average handle time went up, but so did customer satisfaction. “We discovered there was a lot more chit chat with customers, who wanted to know how the agents were doing in the situation,” he said. “There was just more general empathy.”Changing patterns in recruitment and retentionThe emotional concerns of employees are also on the mind of Imogen Wethered, co-founder of Qudini. The London-based startup provides “retail choreography software” that lets stores, restaurants, and other physical locations manage queues and take bookings for appointments and events online.Wethered launched Qudini while in her early 20s. Not surprisingly, she gives much thought to how to recruit demanding millennials as the company grows.”Modern employees want to work at a company for a few years and move,” she says. “We have to constantly replace knowledge and train new people.” During job interviews, she asks, “If you got home at the end of the day, what would have happened during that day to make it amazing?” She believes the answer reveals which applicants can help the company transform.Qudini offers many perks that tech-industry workers have become accustomed to, like no dress code and free tea and snacks. It also emphasizes things that are often overlooked in recruitment, such as access to the latest technology.Perhaps most importantly, Wethered stresses to applicants the impact Qudini is making. Its technology plays a key role in social distancing during the pandemic. “Modern employees want to feel they are making a difference in the world,” she says. “For 2021, our main strategy is thinking of ways to keep the cause-based nature in our business after COVID ends.” She is reaching out to refugee camps, offering the company’s technology to them for free. She labels this corporate responsibility initiative “Qudini for Cause.”Besides the societal benefits, it’s a smart business move. A respondent to the poll of Transformers said the nexus for talent strategies will be “high-performing remote experiences with a purpose.” In the year ahead, the companies that win the talent game will be those who give employees a strong reason to come into work – even if they never leave their homes to do so.